MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Coach Mike Carey wanted No. 9 West Virginia to set a good tone heading into a tough week.
Sarah Miles and Liz Repella scored 16 points apiece and the Mountaineers pulled away in the second half for a 78-52 win over South Florida on Saturday.West Virginia (19-1, 5-1 Big East) extended its school-record home winning streak to 30 games and has won six of seven games all time against the Bulls.The Mountaineers now enter a difficult stretch at Georgetown (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) on Tuesday and at DePaul (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) on Jan. 30."We had to have this game," Carey said. "With two road games coming up this week, we had to have this game here at home."Andrea Smith scored 16 points and twin sister Andrell Smith added 12 for South Florida (9-11, 0-6). The Bulls lost their season-high seventh straight game.West Virginia, which set a school record for fewest points allowed in a 78-21 win over Marshall on Wednesday, needed some time to distance itself from the Bulls.Miles' layup just before the halftime buzzer put the Mountaineers ahead 35-28. Three minutes into the second half, Miles scored six unanswered points to start the decisive 19-0 run that put West Virginia ahead 59-33 with 11:35 remaining.Miles, last year's Big East defensive player of the year who missed seven games with a left knee injury earlier this season, finished with a season high for points."I thought Sarah Miles finished some shots and that was good to see, it looked like her old self at times," Carey said. "There were times on defense she set the tone for us."West Virginia committed a season-high 24 turnovers but outrebounded South Florida 45-30 and shot 51 percent (27 of 53) from the floor."We are going to get deeper in this conference and we can't turn it over 24 times and give up 14 offensive rebounds and expect to win against really good teams," Carey said.South Florida was limited to 28 percent (16 of 57) shooting and committed 20 turnovers."They do a very good job pressuring the ball and getting in the passing lanes," said South Florida coach Jose Fernandez. "They switch one through five and if you don't read the defense and open up on cuts, they slide through screens really well and open up on gaps. No other team in our league switches as much as they do."Madina Ali added 10 points for the Mountaineers. She was limited to 17 minutes with a lingering ankle injury.